Mangini accepts offer to become new Jets coach

Updated: January 17, 2006, 11:36 AM ET
ESPN.com news services

The New York Jets wrapped up their search for a new coach Monday when Patriots defensive coordinator Eric Mangini accepted the club's offer to replace Herm Edwards.

Eric Mangini
Mangini

Mangini, who becomes the youngest head coach in the NFL at 34 (he turns 35 on Thursday), and the Jets were finalizing the deal late Monday, ESPN.com's Michael Smith reports. The team said it would introduce Mangini at a 4 p.m. news conference Tuesday.

Mangini informed the Patriots of his decision Monday night. Patriots spokesman Stacey James, reached later by The Associated Press, said, "We haven't heard anything."

The Jets went straight for Mangini after former Vikings coach Mike Tice, the final candidate to meet with the team, finished interviewing Monday. The AP reported that Jets assistant coaches had been told to report to work Wednesday, indicating a decision on a hire was imminent.

Mangini, a protégé of Patriots coach Bill Belichick -- he's spent 10 of his 11 years as an NFL assistant working with Belichick -- emerged as the leading candidate last week. Regarded as one of the brightest defensive minds in the game, Mangini was never more than an NFL position coach until this season when he was promoted to coordinator to replace Romeo Crennel, who departed to become coach of the Cleveland Browns.

But Jets general manager Terry Bradway said that past head coaching experience was not a requirement for the Jets, that the team would prefer someone who has been in a "managing-type position, whether it be a coordinator or a guy with head coaching experience."

Mangini has close ties to Jets assistant GM Mike Tannenbaum, another factor that seems to have worked in his favor. Mangini was an assistant with the Jets from 1997-99, working with Belichick in the secondary, and he and Tannenbaum also worked together in Cleveland in the mid-1990s.

It is believed that defensive coordinator Donnie Henderson, offensive coordinator Mike Heimerdinger and special teams coordinator Mike Westhoff will probably not return. All three interviewed for the head coaching job, as did former Saints coach Jim Haslett, former Rams interim coach Joe Vitt and Giants defensive coordinator Tim Lewis.

Mangini is expected to consider Saints offensive coordinator Mike Sheppard for the offensive coordinator's job -- the two also worked together in Cleveland -- and Raiders defensive coordinator Rob Ryan for the same post in New York.

Edwards parted ways with the Jets in a messy split. Speculation for the better part of the season linked him to the Chiefs. Though Johnson told the team in November he wanted Edwards to stay, he made few comments publicly to squelch the rampant speculation the Chiefs wanted his coach.

The idea that Edwards would ask for an extension after going 4-12 may have rubbed some in the organization the wrong way, leaving them no choice but to let Edwards go. After several days of negotiating, the Jets received a fourth-round pick as compensation for Edwards from the Chiefs; his official introduction as coach was Jan. 9.

Mangini inherits a team that has its share of questions. That is the big reason why Edwards wanted an extension, because he anticipated it might take a few years to rebuild the team. Based on that fact, Mangini's contract is likely for no fewer than four years.

Quarterback Chad Pennington is coming off his second major shoulder injury. Though he vowed to be ready for the start of training camp, the Jets plan to bring in a veteran to compete for the starting job. Will veteran running back Curtis Martin be back?

Edwards planned to have Martin return, but Mangini might have different thoughts. The 32-year-old back is coming off knee surgery and might not be viable as a starter anymore. The Jets also need help at offensive line and receiver.

The defense should be the strength of the team, and could be even better with Mangini at the helm. But the Jets must make a decision on whether to put the franchise tag on defensive end John Abraham or sign him to a long-term contract.

Information from ESPN.com senior NFL writers Len Pasquarelli and John Clayton and The Associated Press was used in this report.

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